What are the Wegovy side effects?
As with all medicines, Wegovy comes with some potential side effects. Mostly, these should be mild and are likely to lessen or even disappear completely after a few weeks of starting treatment.
Still, we know how tough it can be to experience uncomfortable side effects. Dealing with these while trying to maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle can be a real challenge. We’re here to support you on every step of this journey to help you achieve your weight loss goals.
Visit our dedicated page for advice on managing side effects. And, don’t forget, if you have any questions or are concerned about anything, we’re just a message away.
As Wegovy is newly available for weight loss treatment in the UK, it is labelled with a black triangle. This means it is being monitored very closely. If you do get any side effects with Wegovy, whether they are listed in the patient information leaflet or not, please report these via the Yellow Card Scheme.
The most common side effects with use of Wegovy are gastrointestinal in nature: nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea and constipation. Fatigue and headache are also very common, mainly as doses are increased.
Other common side effects include: feeling lightheaded, excess wind (flatulence), development of gallstones, gastroesophageal reflux, injection site reactions, hair loss and hypoglycemia in patients with type 2 diabetes.
In rare cases, there can be serious side effects, such as pancreatitis or anaphylaxis.
If you experience symptoms like difficulty in breathing, swelling of the face, lips or tongue and difficulty swallowing you may be having a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) and you need to seek immediate medical help.
If you develop severe abdominal pain with or without persistent vomiting this may be a sign of pancreatitis and you need to get medical help immediately.
Please make sure to read the Patient Information Leaflet carefully before starting treatment.
Find out more about side effects you may experience when using Wegovy and our advice on how to manage these.
How do I use Wegovy?
You inject Wegovy under the skin once a week using an injection pen. Don’t worry, it’s easier than it sounds and our friendly clinicians are here to answer any questions. You can also watch our video on how to use Wegovy.
You’ll start with a dose of 0.25mg, which will increase every four weeks until you reach the maximum maintenance dose of 2.4mg.
If you struggle with side effects or find a lower dose of Wegovy helps you to achieve your healthy weight loss goal, you may not need to continue to increase the dose as per the recommended guidelines. You can contact us via your online patient account to discuss this with our clinical team. Our clinical team can also guide you on what to do next when you reach a healthy body mass index (BMI).
Where should I inject Wegovy?
The best places for injection are areas with the most fat, such as your tummy (but not within 5cm of your belly button), the front of your thighs or your upper arms. It’s important to change injection sites regularly. You can inject in the same area (e.g., upper thigh) but choose a different spot each time.
Watch our video on how to inject Wegovy
What Wegovy dose do I take?
The recommended maintenance dose for Wegovy weekly injections is 2.4mg semaglutide. Treatment will begin with a low dose, which will gradually be increased over the first 16 weeks to the maximum dose. This will help your body to adjust to semaglutide and allow for the monitoring of any side effects.
Your starting dose of Wegovy will be 0.25mg, injected once a week. The weekly dose is increased every 4 weeks until you reach the maintenance dose of 2.4mg, injected once a week. You’ll then stay at the 2.4mg dose for the rest of your treatment until you reach a healthy body mass index (BMI) or if our clinical team advise you otherwise.
The dose escalation schedule is:
- Weeks 1-4: 0.25mg
- Weeks 5-8: 0.5mg
- Weeks 9-12: 1mg
- Weeks 13-16: 1.7mg
- Week 17 and onward: 2.4mg
Each Wegovy pen will contain four doses. You will use each pen four times as you’re moving through the dose increase schedule. For example, the first Wegovy pen will contain a total of 1mg of Wegovy, which will give you four doses of 0.25mg to use over weeks 1-4. You will need to set the pen to the right individual dose each time and should use a new needle for each injection. We will send full instructions on how to do this if we prescribe Wegovy for you.
If you experience any side effects, you should not increase the dose you are using until they have settled.
If you accidentally inject more Wegovy than you should, you must contact a doctor. You may experience nausea or vomiting and may require medical treatment.
What if I miss a Wegovy dose?
For most effective results, it’s important to try and administer your Wegovy dose on the same day each week. Setting an alarm on your phone can help. If you do miss a dose (or doses), follow these instructions depending on how many you’ve missed and how long it is until your next scheduled injection:
If your next dose is due within two days (48 hours), then do not take the dose you missed. Just take your next dose as scheduled.
If your next scheduled dose is more than two days away, inject your missed dose as soon as possible then take your next dose as planned.
If you miss doses for more than two weeks, please send us a message via your online account for advice on how to proceed.
Does Wegovy need to be kept in the fridge?
Yes, store Wegovy in a fridge (with a temperature between 2°C and 8°C) before first use. Once you start using the pen, you can keep it for 6 weeks either at room temperature (below 30°C) or in a fridge (with a temperature between 2°C and 8°C). Do not freeze Wegovy.
Is Wegovy suitable for me?
Wegovy can be prescribed for adults with a BMI over 30, or a BMI over 27 with weight-related conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease or sleep apnoea.
You should not use Wegovy if you’re pregnant and should stop treatment at least two months before trying to get pregnant. If you become pregnant while taking Wegovy, stop using it immediately and talk to your GP or midwife.
It must not be used if you are allergic to any of the ingredients in Wegovy (such as semaglutide). A full list of ingredients can be found in the Patient Information Leaflet.
How does Wegovy make you lose weight?
Wegovy (semaglutide 2.4mg) aids weight loss by helping you feel fuller, reducing hunger levels and cravings, resulting in improved control of eating habits.
Its active ingredient is semaglutide, which is a synthetic version of the naturally occurring hormone glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1). GLP-1 plays an important role in regulating appetite and calorie intake. After eating, GLP-1 is released from the gut to help regulate your blood sugar levels and reduce the amount of glucagon in your body. As a result, it slows down the emptying of your stomach and makes you feel fuller for longer.
While using Wegovy you should feel as though your appetite is reduced so you should eat less, as you should feel fuller for longer.
How much weight can you lose with Wegovy?
The most important thing is to lose weight in a healthy and sustainable manner. Alongside a reduced calorie diet and increased physical activity, the aim while using Wegovy should be for healthy weight loss at a rate of 1-2 pounds (roughly 0.5 to 1kg) per week.
While Wegovy isn’t guaranteed to work for everyone, it has been very effective for a large number of users. 90% of patients in clinical trials lost at least 5% of their starting body weight after using Wegovy for six months. After just over a year of using Wegovy, 60% of patients lost more than 15% of their starting body weight. Nearly 40% of patients lost more than 20% of their starting body weight. All patients in the trial were on a reduced-calorie diet and increased physical activity throughout.
Clinical trials by Novo Nordisk, who manufacture Wegovy, revealed significant success rates for people using Wegovy for weight loss, stating that “patients experienced significant weight loss; this started from the first week and was sustained beyond one year”. See full details about STEP 1 trial here and STEP 4 trial here.
How effective is Wegovy?
A 68-week trial by Novo Nordisk, who manufacture Wegovy, showed that patients using Wegovy achieved a mean change in body weight of 14.9% (compared to 2.4% in the placebo group). Of those, almost 85% achieved weight loss of ≥5%, 66% achieved weight loss of ≥10%, and almost 50% achieved weight loss of ≥15%.
During the trial, both groups (those using Wegovy and those taking a placebo) followed a reduced-calorie diet (~500 kcal/day deficit) and increased physical activity (recommended to a minimum of 150 min/week).
The trial included 1,961 patients who were classed as either obese (body mass index (BMI) ≥30 kg/m2) or overweight (BMI 27 kg/m2-29.9 kg/m2) and had at least one weight-related comorbid condition, such as dyslipidemia or hypertension.
Does Wegovy burn fat?
Wegovy does not burn fat but instead helps to regulate your appetite and make you feel fuller for longer, therefore helping to reduce how much you eat. It should be used alongside diet and exercise programmes for healthy and sustainable weight loss.
Learn more about healthy weight loss.
What is the difference between Saxenda and Wegovy?
Saxenda is a licensed UK weight loss treatment that comes in the form of an injection pen. It works in a very similar way to Wegovy and is manufactured by the same company. The active ingredient of Saxenda is liraglutide, which is a synthetic version of the naturally occurring hormone GLP-1. It works in the same way as Wegovy’s active ingredient semaglutide to help you feel fuller and aid a decrease in calorie intake.
Saxenda is injected once daily whereas Wegovy is injected once weekly.
Can I switch to Wegovy from Saxenda?
Yes, it’s fine to switch from Saxenda to Wegovy after seeking medical advice. How you change medicines will depend on how long you’ve been taking Saxenda and what kinds of side effects and results you’ve experienced. Once Wegovy is available, complete an online consultation for our clinical team to review. Keep an eye out on the website and sign up here to stay up to date with Wegovy.
What are alternative weight loss medicines to Wegovy?
We currently offer Saxenda, Orlistat or Xenical as prescription treatments to help support weight loss.
Saxenda works by reducing your appetite and making you feel fuller. You inject Saxenda under your skin using an injection pen.
Xenical is the branded version of Orlistat. These tablets both work in the same way – by blocking the absorption of some of the fat from your meal. Your body then gets rid of the fat through your stool.
Xenical and Orlistat are best used alongside a lower fat healthy eating plan. Eating less fat at meal times while taking your treatment can help to reduce any potential side effects of the medicine. Please see our ‘Eating when on Saxenda, Orlistat or Xenical’ guides for extra tips on losing weight successfully.
Find out more about current weight loss treatments we can prescribe.
Who makes Wegovy?
Wegovy is manufactured by US pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk Inc. This is the same company that makes Saxenda, which we currently prescribe, where appropriate, to support patients on their weight loss journey.
Wegovy’s active ingredient, semaglutide, is currently used as a type 2 diabetes treatment under the brand name Ozempic. Ozempic isn’t licensed as a weight loss treatment in the UK. It is also delivered as a weekly injection but contains a much lower dose of semaglutide. The starting dose of Ozempic is generally 0.25mg, which is gradually increased to a maximum dose of 1mg. Wegovy also begins at 0.25mg but the dose is increased to a maximum of 2.4mg over 16 weeks.